Islamic extremism has nothing to do with Islam then? Is that Cameron’s latest thesis? The clue isn’t in the name after all then?
Cameron’s might seem like a pretty plausible stance, at first glance. Why, his own “Parliamentary Conservative Party”, aren’t actually conservatives themselves nowadays, are they? Not in deed as in profession.
What then could be more reasonable than that hypocrisy just like his own is what now fuels mayhem in Iraq and Syria? Something as unconnected with what Islam really is, as he is with what conservatism really is?
Isn’t Cameron merely saying this?
Just as the (Parliamentary) Conservatives in the UK by-and-large aren’t really conservatives at all nowadays, likewise Islamist Extremists, far from being extremely Islamic as you’d naturally expect from the nomenclature, are, in fact, hardly Islamic people at all, perhaps not even true Moslems at all, not even moderately so.
Christian ideas, applied to Islam
Cameron is here borrowing, and applying to Islam, a distinction of protestant theology said to have eternal consequences. That is, the distinction between, on the one hand, “true believers” – born-again saints if you like – real Christians – people who are thought to be “saved” and who are collectively referred to as “the church invisible” – and, on the other hand, “hypocrites” and “temporary believers” (as I seem to remember that the Westminster Confession and the Baptist Confession of 1689 refer to them) sojourning within what protestants used to call “the church visible”.
You can hear echos of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ in Cameron’s argument, to test the prophets, by examining the “fruit” of their “trees”. But this teaching of Christ, is not a teaching of Islam.
Isn’t Cameron is really saying this too?
That it’s really that nice Turkish chap at the kebab shop, or Bengali waiter at the “Indian” restaurant, who, for all we know, wouldn’t hurt a fly, eats pork chops served to him at table if it would offend a tactless English host not to (or because he just likes pork) who is the true Moslem? The Moslem who quite possibly hasn’t visited a mosque or spoken to an imam in five years? The nominal Moslem, like the seven Bosnian refugees who drank lager and ate bacon butties I had staying in my house in Guildford over twenty years ago? The “moderate” Moslem-next-door who is not at risk of ever planting a bomb, or chopping off some other poor blighter’s head. Possibly, that is, because he keeps his only copy of the Koran in a box in his attic?
If Islam is “the religion of peace”, Cameron argues, then might not this peace-loving nice-guy stereotype be the “true” Moslem that Cameron so enthusiastically envisages? How convenient would that be!
Mr Cameron, I suspect, doesn’t relate well to any brand of what he’d call “fundamentalism”. God knows he has gone out of his way to ensure that many Christian fundamentalists will never again vote Tory. Cameron is best known in the circles in which I move for betraying conservative fundamentals.
Cameron’s argument is that Islamic Extremists aren’t even moderately Islamic, as he understands what it is to be Islamic; whilst Islamic Moderates, his sort of people – or at least people he can put up with – are extremely akin to his preferred mental picture of what it means to be Islamic. N’est-ce pas?
Not approving of any sort of fundamentalism helps Mr Cameron to overcome the cognitive dissonance, whereby obeying the Koran, by becoming a terrorist, isn’t at all what Cameron means by “Islamic”. Whereas humbly serving drunk English lager louts bacon burgers in a take-away, never reading the Koran, and certainly never becoming a terrorist, is extremely Islamic to Mr Cameron’s imaginative and wishful way of thinking.
Islamic Moderates are thus extremely Islamic according to Mr Cameron, whilst Islamic Extremists aren’t even moderately Islamic.
But Islam is what it is. No matter how many millions believe what they hear from Mr Cameron, their mistaken belief cannot miraculously make a lie true.
Wishing, and therefore declaring in a political speech what one hopes will turn out to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, that war-mongering Islam has really been a religion of peace all along, an unjustly misunderstood calming influence on the world stage for the past dozen centuries, isn’t going to fool all the people all of the time.
David Cameron mocks the phrase “a clash of civilisations”. But he does so in a speech in which the elephant in the room is exactly that!
Now, would the real Islam please stand up?